TV Review: Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor
With much anticipation and build up, the celebration of Doctor Who‘s 50th anniversary has come with the world simulcast premiere of The Day of the Doctor. The episode has the tough task of moving the series forward (through space and time) at the same time celebrating 50 years. Small touches like a scarf, the walls of the Tardis, or a fez do exactly that. Small touches that add a lot for long time fans, but not enough to ruin it for those who might be relatively new.
In 2013, something terrible is awakening in London’s National Gallery; in 1562, a murderous plot is afoot in Elizabethan England; and somewhere in space an ancient battle reaches its devastating conclusion.
With the show opening on Matt Smith‘s Doctor and Clara, the television show immediately exuded its grand scale movie vibe. We’re thrown into the war to end all wars, the Time War, never seen, but often hinted at during the television series. We’re thrown to Gallifrey, with the Daleks laying siege to the city and John Hurt‘s Doctor on a mission to grab a weapon that will end the war. Hurt’s Doctor is one who is weary, and tired, just wanting to end the war and willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen, even if it means the destruction of his people. The choices he must make and actions has made are clear.
Eventually Matt Smith’s Doctor meets David Tennant‘s Doctor in a bit of humor that brings the whimsy of the show to the forefront of the show. Eventually Hurt joins the two in a great back and forth that’s really funny, and overall entertaining. That whimsy and humor moves to seriousness as the three Doctors debate their actions and how many they killed to end the war.
What’s interesting about the show is that even with all the build up and expectation the show would focus on the Time War, really the story is a time travel adventure involving an invasion by Zygons and Elizabeth. The mix of stories and times is great actually creating a show that isn’t dark, but has a tone that mixes the best of the series.
But all of that time travel fun leads up to the moment we’ve all wondered about, the end of the Time War and the Doctor’s decision. The logic that builds up to the decision that haunts the Doctor is explored and the emotion and pain is emoted by Hurt, an experienced and accomplished actor. But, there’s a twist to it all, and that’s something I don’t want to spoil.
Hurt’s pain and emotion throughout the episode is what drives and makes the show a fantastic one. What shouldn’t have worked, worked. Three Doctors, the warrior, the hero and the doctor, all together for a special episode that lives up to it all. It was a magic episode with a message about tough decisions, genocide and hope.
It was a special episode, a worldwide event, one that felt like an event. On to another 50 years.
Director: Nick Hurran
Writer: Steven Moffat, Terry Nation, Robert Banks Stewart
Overall Score: 8.75